Senator Max Baucus has had a bumpy ride with the left-wing of the Democratic Party for a good decade now. His accomplishments are often dismissed for his failures – look at SCHIP and the Bush Tax Cuts, for example.
More recently, Senator Baucus is getting whacked from both sides for the failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to produce any results. “It’s Healthcare Reform deja vu.”
However, an important point is being missed in this telling of current events: Senator Baucus didn’t have to serve on the Supercommittee. In fact, he volunteered for the job. As others have pointed out, volunteering for the Supercommittee was a huge risk for Baucus.
During the debate over what would become the ACA (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act), Baucus saw his poll numbers tank. It was just within the past year that his numbers had started to rebound. The smart political move for Max would have been to stay as far away from the Supercommittee as possible and, after it inevitably failed, throw stones.
I think it’s worth revisiting the recent criticism of Max. Too many politicians shy away from their duties as policy-makers in favor of political safety. During the last three years, Max has done anything but.